On Sunday, the New York Times posted an article going in depth into the motivations of Anthony Comello, the Staten Island day laborer who allegedly shot and killed Gambino family boss Frank Cali, supposedly after being brainwashed by QAnon propaganda. To show his allegiance to the mysterious conspiracy avatar, Comello got a blue ballpoint pen and scrawled a number of Trump and Q slogans on his hand, including a large, unmistakable “Q” in the center of his palm.
Why someone aligned with Q would kill a Mafia boss, when Q has never mentioned the Mafia, remains a mystery, a baffling element of a baffling murder. Times reporter Ali Watkins spoke to Comello’s lawyer, and both seemed a little baffled by the whole thing. Which is entirely appropriate, because QAnon can get pretty baffling if you’re not ensconced in the arcane mythology and jargon of the conspiracy theory.
Like digital pilgrims looking for the face of Jesus Christ on a piece of meme toast, QAnon believers have had to spend more and more time dissecting ephemera for clues, because Q is increasingly absent. Since March 29th, Q has made less than 40 posts – leaving his followers to dig deeper and deeper for evidence that they haven’t been abandoned, and that the “great awakening” they’ve been promised is actually going to take place.
Just this past week, we had Q acolytes going crazy over an errant “Q” in a James Comey tweet (which was deleted and reposted,) Fox News interviewing a man wearing a “Q” hat, desperate attempts to parse Robert Mueller’s tone of voice for clues that he “cut a deal” with Trump to pretend to investigate him (he didn’t,) and totally baseless allegations that the horrific shooting in Virginia Beach was actually a false flag signaling an offensive by the deep state against the Q team.
Normally, I’d go through each of these and let people know why they’re bogus signs for a great event that’s never coming. But instead, I want to use this floundering as an opportunity to reach out directly to QAnon believers, who I know read my writing. And what I want to say this:
It’s genuinely an accomplishment to get a book near the top of the Amazon #100 chart. It’s even more of an accomplishment to do it when you’re an author that nobody has ever heard of who had never written a book before. And it’s the giant golden star on top of an accomplishment cake to do it writing a book that has no real audience, written under a fake name by people also using fake names, and is barely a book.
But such is the way of things. And so “QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening” made international news when it skyrocketed up Amazon’s charts, fueled by a clutch of five star reviews and coverage on the TV news and web.
When I blogged for Skeptoid, I would often find a piece of conspiracy theory or psuedoscience and refute it point by point. One of my favorites was this piece from October 2013, where I tackled a 29-point listicle alleging that the west coast was being “fried” by radiation from the Fukushima meltdown.
It was and is not, and I was able to refute each of the bad faith claims made by the original piece. It’s exhausting to do, but useful in that it meets head on a favorite tactic of conspiracy theorists: the Gish Gallop. This is throwing out half-baked claim after half-baked claim in an endless succession and counting on the skeptic to eventually get tired of debunking them all and quit.
I don’t write much of these anymore, but wanted to come back to the format to answer a piece challenging the validity of anyone who thinks online conspiracy avatar QAnon is fake.